learning tricks for much longer than that. I even teach high schoolers now and then, although we tend to focus on nonfiction. But this past year, I’ve been interviewed formally and casually on the same topic numerous time:
How does someone START that thing called story?
1. Start in the middle.
the same in fiction – we’re told to make the first scene dynamite – the best
you’ve got. This can be paralyzing! You see that blank page and it scares the words
right out of your brain.
Write the parts you know NEED to be there, then you can go back, rearrange if
necessary, and fill in the rest. I do this all the time, just by blocking out
my chapters in Word, then filling in the scenes as I have inspiration. I also
put scene ideas on index cards, then use a wall and some sticky stuff to
rearrange the timeline as much as needed!
2. Start an idea file.
pages, random notes, poems, etc. Now I’ve graduated to Pinterest, which is so
cool for inspiration! I have boards for each book I’ve written, and also those
I’m just brainstorming. Here’s my board for Balance Broken. Here’s my board for a book I haven’t even started yet, that for now, I’m calling soulShifter.
and scene layouts. These are great for people like me, who think in images.
Having these concrete images helps me translate my ideas into words.
3. Start thinking like a cinematographer.
it’s already a movie – in your own head! I spend time in each scene blocking
out the characters in my mind. I imagine where they might stand, the movements
they might make, the way the lighting would look on their hair. This can go
into your writing or not, but ultimately your scenes will have that punch of
appeal that readers want. Readers like the drama – so think like a movie-maker!
Analyze some of your favorite movies and try to determine why a particular
scene is so spectacular, then try using that technique with words.
4. Start calling yourself an author, or writer.
myself the mental permission to take myself seriously, and here I am in my
thirties, doing something I could have done in my twenties. Every now and then,
I still have to remind myself to introduce myself as a teacher AND author, not
much, and you don’t leave yourself room to grow and improve. But too little,
and you might never carve out that time necessary to chase your dream right up
into the stars. Tell yourself that you can do this, and you are allowed to do
Now go do the thing!
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